One of the joys of living in Lincolnshire is we’re halfway to anywhere. It’s the midpoint between London and Edinburgh and our county town has nothing more to its name than a cathedral, a Christmas market and a ton of bars. Then surely traveling west across the Peak District for a convention should be nothing? Tickets booked, wine gums bought and the washing machine car (it’s really not healthy) all fueled up, off we went. Was it worth it? Or should we have just gone drinking instead?
Driving into central Manchester is like any other city; A god awful experience unless you’ve lived there for many years. Expect to be lost many times over. Our sat nav decided to throw a few fits and to send us down the wrong road at least twice. Finally we arrived at the correct location and drove into a sci-fi like car park that due to pre-booking welcomes the car by name with a smiley emote! One last check that everything is stowed away and I see out of the corner of my eye a guy taking army surplus out of his car. Oh no. Are we going to get really screwed over? Then I see the eye patch. Nope, he’s dressing as Big Boss. We’ve made it!
Into the barrier of queues we go! El is clearly regretting her decision to come along as I begin the excited process of boring her to tears naming every cosplayer’s character in sight. There’s a lot of them. Unlike other conventions MCM Manchester is a very cosplay focused event with people rocking amazing Dr Doom outfits next to legendary 3 amigos and various other elaborate ensembles. A quick run around barriers, a quick bag check and we’re in! Time for a dash to the most important area of the hall after nearly 3 hours of driving, The toilets!
The necessaries dealt with, we entered the hall and I realised quickly how the priority entry ticket and setting off ungodly early on a Saturday was already worth it. You can walk through the stalls and attractions with space to see everything at a glance. It’s still relatively busy but nothing compared to the crush fest it would become later in the day. At its heart MCM Manchester is the same as any other geeky convention. There are stalls selling official licensed merchandise and there are stalls selling ‘official’ licensed merchandise. The video games industry makes a token show but no major reveals. We were therefore treated to a big space reserved for Borderlands3, a strangely empty (but always fully booked) Sony VR booth and a couple of interesting indie party games.
The steampunk team had outdone themselves with multiple items on show and a very cheerful fellow pressing for questions. The main stage had Bryan Dechart (that robot you couldn’t murder in Detroit no matter how hard you tried) telling a nice story about how he motion captured walking through a window and there was the overpriced food area which smelt much nicer than expected. All this was nice and a pleasant wandering around but the best area of any convention is always the small stores and the artists area.
If you ever attend a convention of any kind, walk around and see the sights and sounds (try to avoid the smells) Then get a ton of money and get over to the smaller stalls and the artists alley. They are amazing. You have shops unlike anything you see unless you really get into a fandom and it links to it online. A guy making incredible posters of Japanese style prints but video game and geek culture style, a stall selling metal models of transformers and wonderful cosplayers selling geeky themed green tea and strainers. Then take a step to the smaller stands and just walk through what is essentially deviantart made real. It is just pure bliss and no I didn’t take pictures because I’m a fool who was too busy being blinded by the awesomeness.
In the bounty of artwork, comics and knickknacks you’ll see a few artists you like, a few you question, a few you love and a few who are just stand out legends. This MCM is a little different than usual as you’ll find published artists mixed in with the social media famous ones. The best thing to do though is just look at everything and it should be obvious but be polite to them, they’ve been sitting there being judged by strangers before you even got there. I can’t think of any location I’ve visited where I’ve seen a bookmark and bought it on the spot because it was just too good not to.
Is MCM Comic Con Manchester just pure joy and a high recommendation then? Yes but one with a big green hulking caveat. By the middle of the afternoon on Saturday we really were done. It gets crazy busy in that hall by 12 (normal entry starts at 11). Good luck getting through anywhere without dealing with a lot of tired, rude and small people. The cosplay is amazing but some giant figures or people wearing plush tails that are as big as two people can get a bit cramped when you’re all trying to see the same thing. There were many moments where people had stopped to chat and catch up in the middle of a busy area and plenty of moments where you had to wonder why there wasn’t more space. All that being said once you find the seating area you quickly realise like I did how one in every 3 people is wearing an elaborate cosplay and having a good time. You understand who this convention is mainly for. Fans that love their series enough to dress up and have fun no matter how many people they have to push out of the way for that rare figurine. At the end of the day they are the reason events like this exist.
That and the amazing Pocky.
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